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Getting the transport right - for what?: What transport policy can tell us about the construction of sustainability
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis studies transport as a governing tool that shapes the physical environment and human society, as well as having environmental impacts. The aim is to learn what policy for transport can say about what sustainability means and does. My focus is Stockholm municipal policy between 2007 and 2017, a period of sustainability concerns and large transport project agreements.

Using the What’s the problem represented to be? approach, I look at measures proposed for the ‘right’ transport of people and ask: what kind of ‘tool’ is transport produced to be, and how is sustainability constructed?

The transport system is one of the most visible parts of the built environment and recognized for its negative impact on environmental and human health. As co-constitutive of social practices, transport is far from a mere technical issue. Despite this, transport policy studies are often technical in approach. Since policy is not a neutral response to pre-existing ‘problems’, I consider transport policy to be part of a creative process for the whole of society.

A main contribution to the field of sustainable transport is a view of transport as a tool for governing and inherently political. Stockholm is frequently hailed as a ‘green’ city. I was interested to explore this ‘best case’ scenario and see what might consolidate the two seemingly opposing aims of greener transport and more car use. I find that Stockholm policy for transport is permeated with technological optimism, reliance on individual choices, and concern for economic growth. Policy measures construct transport as a tool to affirm the commuter paradigm and promote urban expansion. Attention to the sustainability of transport concentrates on emissions from transport work, which is to be addressed by individual consumption choices. Sustainability is associated with efficiency, technological innovation, and above all urbanity. The proposals paradoxically construct the subject as both co-responsible for problem and solution (the conscious or irresponsible consumer), and as a cog in the wheel for economic growth (the commuting worker). This disregards both the homo ludens and the citizen: play and the political. These aspects become subordinated while policy enhances the role of work.

Abstract [sv]

Den här avhandlingen i miljövetenskap handlar om policyn för persontransporter i Stockholm, med fokus på hållbarhet. I min analys har jag utgått från åtgärder för transporter som presenterats i elva olika styrdokument från Stockholms stad mellan 2007 och 2017.

Forskningen om transportpolicies är ofta tekniskt inriktad, och handlar då om att utvärdera olika verktyg utifrån satta mål eller om att utreda hur olika åtgärder bäst kan implementeras eller mål kan uppnås. I den typen av studier betraktas en policy ofta som ett neutralt och rationellt medel för att lösa befintliga problem. I den här avhandlingen studeras transportsystemet istället som en sorts styrning som får effekter inte bara på hur vi rör oss, utan också på vilken sorts samhälle vi kan leva i och vilken sorts person vi kan vara i det samhället.

Här ges inte några färdiga svar på hur transporterna borde organiseras för att bli hållbara. Det jag föreslår är istället ett annat sätt att se på transporter: Som en starkt styrande kraft i samhället med konsekvenser inte bara för hur snabbt vi kan ta oss från punkt A till punkt B, utan även för hur vi lever med oss själva, varandra och resten av planeten.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2019. , p. 243
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 166
Keywords [en]
problem representation, transport policy studies, policy discourse, sustainable transport studies, urban transport studies, poststructuralist policy studies
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-39147ISBN: 978-91-88663-74-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-88663-75-7 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-39147DiVA, id: diva2:1359415
Public defence
2019-11-08, MB 503, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-10-16 Created: 2019-10-09 Last updated: 2019-10-18

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Rehnlund, Mathilde

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